Most commonly known for the hit “All the Small Things,” Blink-182 has come a long way from its 1992 punk beginnings on the outskirts of San Diego.
25 years, seven albums and numerous headlining tours later, Blink-182 has reached levels of fame that founding members Tom DeLonge, Mark Hoppus and Scott Raynor never expected, even being named “arguably the most influential pop-punk band ever” by the Associated Press in 2015.
However, despite the band’s long-standing success, Blink has never won or been nominated for a Grammy before this year.
In December 2016, the Recording Academy announced that Blink’s most recent album, “California” is nominated for Best Rock Album at the 2017 Grammy Awards. This nomination makes sense — upon its release on July 1, 2016, the album debuted at No. 1 on the “US Billboard 200” and sold over 170,000 copies in the first week alone.
Blink fans everywhere feel this nomination was a long-time coming and are thrilled, no doubt. But I feel it’s too little too late. Out of all the albums Blink has, “California” is the last one I would’ve picked for the nomination.
Don’t get me wrong, objectively speaking it’s a good album, but it’s just not “Blink” enough.
Some fans, myself included, don’t like “California” out of loyalty — it’s the first album without founding, and somewhat worshipped, member DeLonge. Without DeLonge’s nasally sounding voice, that is just so purely pop-punk in itself, the album seems to lack that distinct punk sound Blink has always been known for.
The album reaches a level of maturity, but has a cookie-cutter, top-40 rock sound that is new to the band’s fans who have been around since the beginning. “Old Blink” featured short, fast paced songs with silly lyrics about farting, toasters, and everything in between. The music videos of this era show the same — Blink never took itself seriously.
It is somewhat surprising that Blink-182 hasn’t been nominated for a Grammy in the past. The band was arguably at its peak at the turn of the century. Its 1999 album “Enema of the State” had three singles — “What’s My Age Again?,” “All the Small Things” and “Adam’s Song” — receive major radio airplay time and top numerous charts. Blink won the bulk of their awards from 1999 to 2001.
Anyone who listens to “Cheshire Cat,” the band’s debut album, compared to “California” will easily notice a difference in style, sound and lyrics. Obviously, Blink has matured. The band’s current members, Hoppus, Travis Barker (since 1998) and Matt Skiba (since 2015) are now in their 40s, Hoppus and Barker both with children, so it’s definitely to be expected that their music would age with them. But did I expect the loss of their signature punk sound? Not so much.
The nomination, while appreciated, has left me with more questions than answers. Did the Academy decide they had overlooked Blink for too long and they were owed some recognition after 25 years of outstanding success? Or was “California” really that great? And more importantly to those who were there from the beginning, would Blink have been nominated if “California” stayed true to the band’s original punk sound?